Ghosted Review | White Noise

by Andrew Parker

Although it boasts two of the hottest stars in Hollywood today and a ton of talent behind the camera, Ghosted is little more than some of the most expensive background noise ever created. Wholly lacking in originality, wit, and creativity, Ghosted wheezes its way through a photocopied to death plot with absolutely nothing that can make it stand out. It’s as passive as major blockbuster filmmaking gets these days, and yet another effort that raises a curious question: why are streaming services so bad at producing action movies?

Cole Turner (Chris Evans) is an everyday guy who lives at home with his parents, helping out on the family farm and putting his dreams of being a world travelling historian on hold after his father (Tate Donovan) takes ill. One day while working the local farmer’s market, he has a meet cute with Sadie Rhodes (Ana de Armas), a recently dumped “art curator” who’s in the market for a plant that won’t die while she’s travelling the world on “business.” They have an impromptu date and hit it off immediately, pulling an all-nighter that lasts well into the next morning. But Cole has a problem when it comes to forging healthy relationships. He’s too needy, and despite his best efforts to play it cool – which lasts approximately seconds – he can’t stop texting Sadie the next day. When she doesn’t respond, he freaks out. Thankfully for him (or maybe not depending on how you look at it), his inhaler – which has been outfitted with a tracking device – is still in her bag. Turns out, she’s in London, so, like a stalker he decides to fly over there immediately. Turns out, Sadie isn’t an art curator, but rather a CIA spy trying to track down a powerful bioweapon before it falls into the hands of a dangerous arms dealer (Adrien Brody). Cole gets captured, and Sadie isn’t impressed to say the least. But when the baddies start to believe that Cole is the actual spy sent to stop them and not Sadie, they have to team up on a globe trotting adventure for the sake of her mission.

Ghosted was written by four credited screenwriters, including someone who worked on the most recent Spider-Man films (Chris McKenna) and the duo who wrote Zombieland and Deadpool (Rhett Reese and Erik Sommers). It’s from director Dexter Fletcher, who previously did such solidly well received films as Rocketman and Eddie the Eagle. The stars are two of the most attractive and sought after performers in the world today. One would think that this team would be able to make even the lowest aiming of adventure movie larks into something breezily entertaining, but they would be wrong. Ghosted is a film where quite literally everyone in front of and behind the camera deserves better; a staggering waste of talent, resources, and money across the board.

Ghosted is a movie that feels too safe and calculated by half; something where if you told me the overall framework was designed by an algorithm or AI it would make perfect sense. If anything remotely spontaneous were to happen in Ghosted, the platform hosting it might crash from the strain. The plot and characters in Ghosted have been trotted out so many times before that the decision to remount yet another story of a person head over heels for someone who isn’t who they claim to be is already a poor one. To enact this story with stock characters and no deviation from formula whatsoever is unbearably lazy. Every scene plays out just as expected, with lazily written banter, contrived scenes that play out precisely as expected, and positively nothing to set itself apart in any meaningful way. Even a cameo packed scene where Cole and Sadie are hounded by bounty hunters feels pandering and designed only to get a cheap pop out of viewers who’ll be reminded of better movies featuring the stars of Ghosted. The only thing more desperate and pandering than the cameos is the decision to cram in as many hit pop songs as possible onto the soundtrack, even in scenes where the feel cringe-inducingly out of place. (Note to everyone: “Uptown Funk” is a terrible song for a shootout.)

It’s hard to place blame on any of the people involved for the overall failure of Ghosted. Everyone had to know that they signed on for the most basic of movies possible, and they do their jobs as if they were hired by an all star temp agency. There are a couple of off handed laughs to be found here. The cinematography and set designs are bright and colourful. The CGI heavy action sequences make about as much logical sense as the wildly unbelievable plot, but that doesn’t mean either are terribly handled (especially the climax set in a rotating restaurant). Ghosted is the definition of a film on absolute autopilot from start to finish, fitting in nicely amongst the likes of The Gray Man, Extraction, and Red Notice as movies that waste a considerable amount of talent for almost nothing in return.

And yet, those films I mentioned have all been successful, and all three of those are getting sequels. I would be surprised if Ghosted doesn’t get one as well. Streaming services have cracked the formula on how to get viewers to watch big budgeted, but terribly cliched and uninteresting action movies en masse. And the key is star power. All of those films (which share some overlap with this one) have superstars that can sell even the stinkiest of bombs. Ana de Armas is a convincing action hero. Chris Evans can bridge the gap between bumbling doofus and capable everyman. They look good together, even if the chemistry they share is basic and not all that smouldering. And that’s what the producers of Ghosted are banking on for their success: stars looking good together. To the backers, nothing else about Ghosted matters in the slightest.

In the end, Ghosted is nothing more than something you can put on your television while you do something else. Streaming services don’t care if you pay attention to what you’re watching, as long as it brings in numbers. Every now and then you’ll look up and see something happening, or you might hear a cool line that will make the ears perk up while doing dishes, texting with friends, or filing your taxes, but that’s it. That’s the extent of Ghosted’s entertainment value. It’s completely passive, designed to make viewers zone out, but not to a point where they might feel compelled to switch over to something better or more original. It won’t rope you in, but you also won’t shut it off. It’s corporate cynicism masked as mainstream entertainment. Even my complaints and misgivings about Ghosted aren’t all that original, which should make viewers question just how many times we have to go through this before studios start offering something better than the same old reheated leftovers.

Ghosted premiers on Apple TV+ on Friday, April 21, 2023.

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